categoryZShrubs Shrubs List 
categoryZEvergreen Evergreen List 
categoryZBrooadleaf Broadleaf List 

PRICKLY HEATH

Gaultheria mucronata

Heather Family [Ericaceae]

Flowers:
month8may month8jun month8june

Berries: berryZpossible        berryZwhite berryZpink berryZred  (edible(ish) but insipid, pink-magenta)
berry8jul berry8july berry8aug berry8sep berry8sept berry8oct

category
category8Shrubs
category
category8Evergreen
category
category8Broadleaf
status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8mauve
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZbell
stem
stem8round

2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Spreading up an acid-soil dell by suckering (white-speckled shrubs).


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Part of a shrub with both white flowers and largish magenta berries.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers hang down in small gatherings from reddened woody branches with smallish glossy leaves.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Stems bright red in places. Flowers are brilliant white and bell-shaped, typically heather-type. Leaves elliptical with a longish point at the end.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers droop downwards in small bunches; un-opened ones egg-shaped. Most unusually, the five sepals are also brilliant white. Flower stalks bend downwards and have magenta tinges.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Opened flowers are bell-shaped, with five re-curled back short triangular petals.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Pentagonally cusped opening of flowers. A young flower bud is light green with magenta tinges (top left).


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Any damage to the flesh of the flower takes on a magenta tinge.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Deep within the bell a green sphere grows with a pink disc in the centre with five reddish rays. Around the periphery of the green ovary are several very short stamens, perhaps ten.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Deep within the bells of pollinated flowers. Un-opened bell on right has five lobes.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Leaves glossy mid-green on upper surface, up to 2cm long, elliptical, and with a sharp spine tip.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Leaves browning at the edges with a few small very short forwardly-pointing teeth. A prominent spine tips the end, hence the name Prickly Heath.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Rear of leaf is matte and lighter-green, upper surface glossy mid-green.


26th May 2006, Bromley Cross, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Berries in profusion.


10th Oct 2015, Hodge Rd, walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Berries usually pink.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The berries are lurid pink to magenta mis-shapen spheres and about a centimetre across.


2nd June 2011, Darwen Tower, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Several large seeds are contained within the berry. The five previously pure-white sepals turn light green.


Hybridizes with : Shallon (Gaultheria shallon) to produce Gaultheria mucronata × shallon with no common name, but which hasn't been seen in the UK since the turn of the 20th Century, and even then was only found in one place in Ireland and one place near Portsmouth.

Some similarities to : Shallon (Gaultheria shallon) and Labrador Tea (Ledum palustre), both members of the same Heath family as Prickly Heath. Also similar to Darley Dale Heath which also has white bell-shaped flowers, but in this case the petals are not curved upwards, and the bells are longer and have a stigma protruding.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

No relation to : Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Saltwort, Prickly Poppy or Prickly Sow-Thistle [plants with similar names].

A thicket-forming suckering shrub up to 1.5 metres high. It is naturalised in scrub and woods, often on sand, but here on the slopes of acidic moorland which was once a spoil-tip for shale from the mining of coal. The spoil and shale is only just beneath the surface soil. The berries, pink to magenta here, can be white, pink, or magenta.


  Gaultheria mucronata  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ericaceae  

Distribution
 family8Heather family8Ericaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Gaultheria
Gaultheria
(Shallons)

PRICKLY HEATH

Gaultheria mucronata

Heather Family [Ericaceae]

WildFlowerFinder Homepage